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See/Saw

A new book finds a common thread in 5,000 years of Japanese art

by Karen Day in Culture on 28 January 2011

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A concise book comparing contemporary Japanese art to renowned classics, "See/Saw: Connections Between Japanese Art Then and Now" guides readers through 5,000 years of art by showing how it shares one common trait—"the new is old, or the old is new."

Authors Ivan Vartanian and Kyoko Wada acknowledge that at first their pairings "may be jarring," but maintain that despite the West's moderate influence, typically across all mediums Japanese artists tend to rework concepts, colors, titles or styles from previous works and therefore they "all belong on the same axis."

The book accomplishes this in a mere 176 pages, and is categorized by themes instead of time. Found among the comparisons are intuitive assessments on artists and aesthetics including Superflat (Murakami's postmodern movement), manga, the role of nature, satire and so much more.

A densely informative book, "See/Saw" is a fluid read for the amateur and novice alike and is packed with intriguing insights and compelling artwork. The paperback edition will be sold from March 2011 and is currently available for pre-oreder from Amazon and Chronicle Books.

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